Custody During the Holidays

Parenting Plans & Holiday Schedules

According to Missouri Revised Statute § 452.310, parents involved in a child custody case must submit a proposed parenting plan. The parents can either file a plan jointly or separately. While the parenting plan will primarily outline parents’ wishes concerning their typical co-parenting schedule, parents will also need to include specific details about the custody, visitation, and/or residential time their child will spend with parents during school and major holidays as well as their birthday, each parent’s birthday, and other significant dates.

In our previous blog, “Tips for Developing a Parenting Plan in Missouri,” we discussed what you should consider when developing the plan overall with a particular focus on the everyday co-parenting schedule. Below, we will discuss common ways parents share time during the holidays as well as tips for determining the best plan for you and your family.

How Do You Split Holidays as Divorced Parents?

When completing your Missouri parenting plan, you will be asked to outline which parent will have physical custody for certain holidays and school breaks, how pick-ups and drop-offs for these holiday visits will occur, what times (i.e. from the end of the school day to 5 p.m. on Sunday before return from school break) each parent will have custody and more. Common ways parents divide the holidays include:

  • Alternating holidays each year. Parents decide to alternate which holidays they spend with their children by alternating holidays and even or odd years. For instance, Parent A may spend Easter, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July with their child in odd years, and in even years, they would have custody on Memorial Day, Christmas, and Martin Luther King Day. Parent B would have the same holidays but in differing years.
  • Splitting the holiday in half. Some parents split the holiday itself in half and spend either the first or second half of the holiday with their child.
  • Being together for certain holidays. If the divorce or separation is amicable, some parents embrace being together for the holidays and spend the holidays together. While only one parent will have physical custody, they will still invite the other parent to spend the holidays with them.
  • Assigning fixed holiday. Parents can decide to spend specific holidays with their children every year. For example, every year, Parent A has custody on Passover, Yom Kippur, Hannukah, Rosh Hashanah, and the Fourth of July. Parent B has custody every year on easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day.

It is important to note that mixing these division ideas is also possible. For instance, while some holidays may be fixed, you may decide to spend birthdays and school vacations together.

There is no black-and-white answer concerning the best way for you and your co-parent to share the holidays with your children. However, we can offer you these considerations that may help you decide what the best holiday division is for you.

  • Consider your child’s age and how the divorce has affected them. Even if your divorce is amicable, you may want to consider how spending the holidays together post-divorce will affect their acceptance and understanding of your separation. If your child is still young or is struggling with the divorce, being together on certain holidays may not be the best idea.
  • Consider how far apart you live. If you do not live close to one another, splitting the holiday in half may not be feasible. It can also be hard to split holidays if either party usually travels to be nearer to other family members for certain holidays.
  • Consider what each parent’s most important/treasured holidays are. If parents have different religious backgrounds or differing opinions on the importance of certain holidays, they may benefit from having a fixed holiday schedule. With that schedule, they will have custody on holidays every year that matter to them most. For instance, a parent who served in the armed forces may have traditions and plans every year for Veteran’s Day.
  • Consider your relationship with one another. Spending the holidays together or splitting the holidays may be difficult if your relationship is not amicable.
  • Consider celebrating holidays twice. Regardless of the holiday schedule you choose, parents can decide to celebrate the holidays they won’t have physical custody another time. For instance, if you won’t have custody on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, you can commit to taking advantage of the deals and sharing a special meal earlier in the month/when you do have custody.

Trusted Child Custody Attorneys

At Kallen Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys are committed to empowering our clients to make informed case decisions. If you or a loved one have questions or need assistance with your child custody case, we are here and equipped to help you.

We can offer you unbiased counsel concerning what type of parenting time schedule and holiday schedule may work best for you, and we can discuss your rights and legal options. Our firm is not only equipped to help with initial child custody filings but also handles post-judgment modifications.

Learn more about how we can help you with your child custody case and/or other divorce and family law matters. Call (314) 441-7793 or reach out online today.